How Climate Change is Costing Ottawa Taxpayers

The impact of climate change is already costing City of Ottawa taxpayers money. For example, from the city’s website

Ottawa is located in a zone of increasing winter freeze/thaw cycles and freezing rain… Freeze/thaw and freezing rain conditions increase winter maintenance costs since ice build-up on roads and sidewalks require more intensive and costly response and treatment. The City is adapting to these climate-change induced conditions through the acquisition and application of new equipment and technologies.

One example of this is those sidewalk plows that now have added to them sand and salt sprinklers that reduce the slipperiness of icy sidewalks.

An example with a bigger pricetag is the planned $150M combined sewage overflow storage tunnel to be dug under downtown Ottawa. This storage tunnel is sized to contain peak rain events of an “average year.” The problem is that climate change has shifted that average so that the design standards of 1980 are inadequate for 2011 averages. Check out this City document footnote which shows that the storage tunnel sizing is already too small to contain all expected overflows. Obviously increasing the capacity would cost more.

These and many other examples of added costs for Ottawa taxpayers are consistent with the predictions of numerous studies by respected institutions. From the 2006 British Government’s report by the London School of Economics’ Nicholas Stern; to Paying the Price, Canada’s 2011 National Roundtable on Environment & Economy report, all indications are that there is a higher financial cost to inaction on climate change than there would be for taking action.

Beyond direct taxation expenditures are the losses to local businesses. Winterlude and tourism have suffered as the skating season has shortened from an average length of 70 days down to less than 55.

Similar examples in the region abound; as in the closure of the Wakefield Steam Train due to heavy rain washouts or the costs to taxpayers for repairs of highway washouts like this one.

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One Response to How Climate Change is Costing Ottawa Taxpayers

  1. Pingback: Interview with Charles Hodgson of Ecology Ottawa on the City of Ottawa Greenhouse Gas Inventory « earthgauge

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